ANGRY traders battling to foil grocery giant Tesco's plan to turn a car showroom into its 13th Reading store are stepping up their campaign.

Newsagent Babar Siddique Butt will launch a petition on Monday to lobby Reading Borough Council planners to reject the supermarket chain's second application to build a Tesco Express at Parson's Garage, Oxford Road.

The bid comes eight months after planners threw out Tesco's previous application for the same site on grounds that it would increase traffic problems and congestion outside Oxford Road Community School.

Tesco spokeswoman Melanie Chiswell said: "We have listened to feedback and have provided

further information to address the previous concerns about traffic."

"We very much hope that this will be acceptable so that we can bring a new convenience store, choice and around 20 jobs to local people."

But Mr Butt, whose shop Butt's Stores is two doors down from Parson's, say it threatens his trade because he is sandwiched between the Tesco Extra in Portman Road and another Tesco Express at the eastern end of Oxford Road - both less than a mile away.

He told The Chronicle: "Another Tesco would be bad news. A lot of small businesses aren't going to be able to compete with their buying power. I have 99% of my customers coming in unhappy [about the application] and they are willing to support us so I hope we get a good response."

His neighbour Peter Sirrell who owns the Music Man shop, said: "To have three within one mile of each other is unnecessary.

"I've been here 20 years and we have a great relationship with the convenience stores - we all use each other and it's a shame Tesco wants to come in and steal our thunder.

"Oxford Road is very diverse with independent shops and we need to protect them."

Battle ward councillor Sarah Hacker said: "It's important that local people stand up for what they believe in against big corporate businesses."

The closing date for public consultation is Wednesday, June 29, and the council's planning committee is due to make a decision in August.